The Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, the former No. 5 overall draft pick, didn’t play one snap in the team’s season-opening victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Today, Hawk’s agent, Mike McCartney, said Hawk wants out of Green Bay… without actually saying Hawk wants out of Green Bay.
“A.J. is a pro’s pro and wants to do his part to help the team win, and his first priority is to be the best Packer he can,” McCartney said. “But if some team called and wanted him to play on all three downs, I think he’d be excited about that.”
We get it. Hawk loves the Packers, but he wants to play.
Although Hawk would never openly express his displeasure, the guy is a competitor and his stance is understandable.
While he technically remains a starter at inside linebacker, the Packers have effectively minimized Hawk’s role. In Philadelphia, the Packers played the entire game in their nickel or dime defense, where Brandon Chillar replaces Hawk.
The writing is on the wall for Hawk in Green Bay.
The NFL is a passing league. The Packers are going to play nickel or dime more often than they’re going to play their base defense. If Hawk stays in Green Bay, he’s going to get less than 50 percent of the defensive snaps.
In fact, he could be get a lot less. The Packers didn’t give Chillar a contract extension last year for him to sit around and take up space on the bench. Chillar’s week one performance didn’t do anything to warrant less playing time, either. He finished with a team-leading seven tackles.
The problem with Hawk is he can’t cover anyone, which makes him a liability for the Packers. The only way he’s going to be an every-down player again in Green Bay is if someone gets injured.
If the Packers can find a trading partner willing to take on Hawk’s $4.623 million salary, they may be wise to move him.
Desmond Bishop is a capable backup and can fill in as a starter should either Chillar or Nick Barnett go down. Hawk is a great insurance policy, but he seems more like a luxury for the Packers right now.
Unfortunately for Hawk, the only place he’s likely to find a home as an every down player is with a bad team. The rest of the NFL is just as aware as the Packers are Hawk is a liability in coverage.